3M Defective Military Earplug Claims
Did you serve in the military between 2003 and 2015 and suffer hearing loss or tinnitus even though you used the combat earplugs provided to you?
You may be eligible to seek compensation from 3M, which sold defective combat earplugs to all four branches of the U.S. military. 3M is facing thousands of lawsuits from other military service members who used these earplugs and suffered significant hearing damage.
Call Phillips Law Group today to schedule a free consultation and find out if you have a case. Our firm has secured more than $750 million in compensation for injury victims, which includes a recovery of $23 million in a defective drug case.
There are no upfront fees for our services and our Phoenix defective product attorneys are not paid unless our clients get paid.
Partner Jeff Phillips works closely with other attorneys throughout the nation representing victims of defective products and is a member of the National Trial Lawyers Association Top 100.
Phillips Law Group. We are here to help. 1-800-706-3000
Could You be Eligible to File a Case?
When you contact our firm, there are many factors we may need to review as we consider your eligibility for legal action. For example, we may ask you:
- When did you serve in the military?
- Were you issued earplugs?
- Did you work as a Department of Defense (DOD) contractor between 2003 and 2015?
- When were you diagnosed?
- What is your diagnosis as it relates to hearing damage/loss?
- Did you have any preexisting hearing issues prior to your diagnosis?
If you served in the military or were a DOD contractor between 2003 and 2015 and were diagnosed with tinnitus and/or hearing loss in one or both ears, you may have a case. However, we can only know for sure if we review your claim in a free consultation.
What Damages Could I Pursue?
The purpose of a personal injury claim is to try to recover compensation to help put victims back in the position they were in before they were injured. While compensation cannot change what happened, it can help prevent the situation from becoming financially devastating for victims and their families. Compensation allows victims to obtain the medical treatment recommended by their doctors without paying out of their own pocket.
You can discuss compensation for your claim with a licensed attorney from Phillips Law Group. While each case is unique, some forms of compensation that are often available include:
- Past medical expenses related to your diagnosis
- Future medical expenses for care you may need in the future
- Cost of hearing aids
- Cost of surgeries
- Medical testing
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Lost earning capacity if your hearing loss hurts your ability to continue working or requires you to change jobs
- Lost enjoyment of life if you can no longer enjoy favorite activities
- Loss of companionship if your relationship with your spouse is impacted by your hearing issues
The value of your case is dependent on many factors, which is why it is important to talk to an experienced attorney. Our goal is to secure the compensation you need so you do not have to pay out of pocket for medical care. Your treatment may help improve your quality of life, even if you have a permanent injury.
How an Experienced Lawyer Can Benefit Your Claim
Not only can an attorney help you determine if you have a case and assess what that case may be worth, he or she can manage the case on your behalf. That means negotiating with the at-fault party, gathering evidence, filing legal documents, and taking many other steps to pursue a favorable result.
Phillips Law Group has the resources and experience to take on large corporations looking to avoid liability for their actions. Our firm has secured more than $750 million in compensation on behalf of our clients.
While there are no guarantees with any case, it is generally true that those who hire experienced attorneys recover more than those who do not.
There is also no financial risk in hiring an injury attorney to represent you. At Phillips Law Group, there are no fees while we are working on your case. We do not get paid for our services until the end of the legal process if you receive compensation.
Licensed. Local. Lawyers. Call 1-800-706-3000 to learn more.
Why Were Service Members Using Defective Earplugs?
It is important for members of the U.S. Armed Forces to take steps to protect their eardrums, as they are often exposed to loud noises, such as:
- Ground vehicles
Service members are exposed to loud noises both when they are deployed and during training. Most military weapons systems reach at least 140 decibels, which is often considered the maximum amount anyone can be exposed to without protection.
Repeated exposure to loud noises without ear protection can cause permanent damage, resulting in persistent ringing in the ears and even partial or complete hearing loss in one or both ears.
That is why all four branches of the military began issuing earplugs. Between 2003 and 2015, all four branches of the military bought Combat Arms Earplugs from 3M and these became standard-issue equipment for service members. 3M had an exclusive contract with the military through the DOD.
The dual-ended earplugs were designed to be worn in the open (yellow end) or closed (olive end) position, depending on the need. When in the yellow - open position, the earplug reduces the dangerous levels of noise. This means that wearers can still hear quieter noises, such as people talking close by. To fully block out the sound, wearers must use the closed, or olive-colored end of the plug.
Problems with the Earplugs
The original design of the earplugs was a problem because soldiers’ helmets did not fit properly when they wore them with the 3M earplugs. To correct this problem, 3M redesigned the stem of the earplugs to be shorter. However, the earplug’s shorter stem cannot go deep enough into the ear canal to create the airtight seal needed to provide maximum effectiveness.
Sometimes the earplugs simply fell out of wearers’ ears. Even if they did not fall out, the modified design was defective, so they did not work as intended. Service members did not know this, so they continued to believe their hearing was protected. Instead, they were repeatedly exposed to loud noises without the recommended level of protection, causing many of them to develop hearing problems later.
How Much Did 3M Know About Problems with the Earplugs?
A common assertion in a defective product claim is the manufacturer knew or should have known about the risk the product presented to users. In the case of 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, there appears to be a strong case that the company was aware of problems with the earplugs.
A federal whistleblower lawsuit settled in 2018 seems to back up claims that 3M knew the earplugs had problems. Documents show that testing done by 3M as far back as January of 2000 revealed the earplugs were defective. Additional evidence shows the company also falsified certifications and test results so they could tell the military the earplugs complied with military safety standards.
The whistleblower lawsuit was settled for $9.1 million, and it alleged the company committed fraud. Despite the revelations about testing of the earplugs, 3M admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement.
The claim was originally brought by Moldex-Metric Inc., which also makes hearing protection products. This company may have been prevented from selling other hearing protection products to the military. 3M filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Moldex-Metric in 2012 over its earplugs for military members.
3M Earplug Lawsuits That Have Been Filed
In March 2021, the first bellwether trial in the 3M Combat Arms Earplug multidistrict litigation (MDL) began. The MDL included 229,111 pending cases as of April 15, 2021.
The purpose of bellwether trials is to give both sides a better idea of how juries might rule on other cases. The two sides often agree to settle after a few trials for bellwether cases.
Cases involved in an MDL make similar allegations, which is why courts sometimes decide to consolidate them into one legal action. Unlike a class action, cases in an MDL are considered individually.
Even if 3M was able to prove it did not know the earplugs were defective, victims and their attorneys may only need to show 3M should have known. That may be enough to establish their liability for damages suffered by military members.
It is not too late to join the MDL, and you may still be eligible for compensation even if you are collecting veteran’s disability benefits. Investigating takes time, so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Call to Discuss a Potential 3M Earplug Lawsuit
Evidence has come out indicating 3M knew the combat earplugs it sold to the U.S. military were defective, which may make them liable for hearing loss and other hearing damage suffered by military service members.
If you or your loved one have hearing damage from time in the military, give us a call today to schedule a free consultation. We are prepared to help you obtain compensation for your damages. Our firm has obtained hundreds of millions in compensation on behalf of our clients.
Corporations should be held accountable for selling defective products that result in injuries to users.
Call today: 1-800-706-3000. No upfront fees.